Saturday, November 20, 2010

It Was the Best of Times, It Was...

A Mykonos "winter" sunset with Delos in the far distance
What the dickens does it matter, it's over.


It’s over.
Old Mykonos town harbor

It’s now winter here.  Yes, technically it is autumn and each Mykonian could wish the other a “good autumn,” kalo fthinoporo, but no one ever does that.  Mykonians go right into winter wishes, kalo heimona.

Mykonos' most prominent citizen
I never bothered asking why that was.  It’s a tradition with a source I think best left to the imagination.  You know the kind, ones that take root one day and flourish without anyone knowing exactly how or why it happened; but if you ask a local you’ll get a definitive answer and if you ask another you’ll get a just as definitive—and different—reason.  

I like to think there’s no autumn greeting because Mykonians think only in terms of two seasons: tourist and non-tourist.  Summer is for tourists and business, winter is for locals and preparing for business.  I think I’m right, too, because neither is there a greeting for springtime.  It’s just straight into summer and kalo kalokairi.

Baptism at Monastery of Panagia Tourliani
Another possibility is that as soon as tourist season ends there’s such a rush to catch up on baptisms and weddings that everyone’s so busy wishing each other kalo riziko (“good roots”), na zesete (“long life”), and vion anthosparton (a marriage “full of flowers”), that there’s no need to gild the autumn with additional good wishes.  Nah, I think the “two-season view” is the answer.
My favorite taverna, closed

Whatever the answer, winter is here.  Beach tavernas shuttered closed months ago, and most others are or soon will be.  The last cruise ship arrived and departed yesterday and the old harbor seems strangely deserted. 

Only the small, brightly painted caïques of local fishermen are tied there now, the mega-yachts are gone.  Of course, some harbor tavernas remain open, for they are where Mykonians gather everyday, year round, to discuss and change the world. 
Awaiting election night results

They’ve had a lot to talk about so far this season.  The election for mayor of Mykonos ended last Sunday in a runoff decided by seventy votes.  Greeks take their politics seriously, and passions ran deep.  Now it’s winter, a time for healing.
A citizen voter licks his wounds

But the surest sign that winter has come to Mykonos is happening as you read this post (assuming it’s Saturday).  I have departed Mykonos and am on a plane bound for New York.  It’s back to the United States.  But it is not to a bleak house I travel (that one’s for you Beth), for there’s Thanksgiving and family waiting for me there, and my book tour begins in January for PREY ON PATMOS: An Aegean Prophecy (Poisoned Pen Press, Piatkus Books/Little Brown, January 2011)

Before I know it winter will pass and I’ll be back among my Mykonian kalo kalokairi well-wishers.  Until then it’s time to share my Grecian memories and create new ones of eastern snow, western sunshine, southern hospitality, northern ways, and the joys of different day, different city travels. 
See you next summer, says Petros the Pelican

Kalo heimona.

Jeff — Saturday 


  1. Sounds like a nice life to me Jeff!


  2. Hi Jeff,
    That's a really nice cover for PREY ON PATMOS.
    Credit where credit is due: who did it?
    Have a great Thanksgiving and a splendid tour.
    And say hello for me to all the bookstore friends in all of the usual places.

  3. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...." and then Dickens kept going.

    It was the worst of times for the first and second estates and then, when Madame Guillotine had her fill of blue blood, she wanted the red blood of the third estate. If the fourth estate had been a group in that day, she would have devoured them first.

    Any tumbrels on Mykonos? Would the natives like to have some tourists carted off? It must be a mixed blessing.


  4. Just landed in NYC and caught your comments.

    No complaints here,Dan, and it certainly beats passing through JFK:)

    Thanks, Leighton, much appreciated coming from you. Especially the comment on the cover. Believe it or not it was done by the same designer who made the "Greek" cover for "Murder in Mykonos" a still best seller! I proudly identify him as my son, Jonathan, who has an instinct for this sort of thing...and that skill has nothing to do with his chosen profession. Several publishers are now coming to him for designs, his pappy is proud to say.

    And they're coming in tumbrels, Beth:) Filled with knitting.

    Happy Thanksgiving, all.